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Monday, July 16, 2012
The Mayor was on Hal Row's "First Talk" ,show on WHKY this morning for the "Monday morning meeting with the Mayor." He was asked by Hal about the Ward Specific voting referendum. The Mayor seemed to state that the Council and he were all for this referendum, but that they chose to allow the petition process to play out, because they didn't want to set a precedent and have people coming forward with frivolous requests for referendums.
The Mayor couldn't be more full of (propaganda). People have told us that the Mayor volunteered to open dialogue about the issue of the petition and expressly told some not to sign it. When members of the CEG openly expressed that they wanted the issue of Ward Specific Council Elections versus the Current At Large model discussed, the Council steadfastly refused to even discuss the issue. They were never going to address this issue. We forced their hand through the necessary means.
The Mayor talked spin about 3,500 people participating in City wide elections and seemed to poo-poo the number of signatures that were received, when in the last two Council elections respectively 2,300 and 1,100 people voted. 2,707 people signed this petition, which is very nearly double the support that the winners received in the 2009 election. This petition garnered 10.6% of the registered voters signatures in the City of Hickory and in actuality many more people than that signed the petition and very few of those signatures were disqualified for reasons other than the legibility of the name or a missing address. We learned from on-the-job training during this process. It was new to us and we learned as we went along. What people can take to the bank is that we learned a lot about this process; and as we move forward, we now have valuable experience to fall back on should we need to revisit this process about other issues that this Council refuses to engage the public on.
A Council member talked about how changing to the Direct ward system would institute walls. What we see now is one wall. That if you went to your Ward Representative and they would not listen that you could go to another. What we have seen is a Council of Unanimous Consent. Why should anyone feel that going to another Ward Representative is going to result in anything different when they are "All of one mind." I have addressed what appears to be this Council's Us versus Them mentality. That is the real wall that the people face. That is what brought this petition about. It is about representation and accountability. Not really for this particular Council, but for Councils going forward.
I think many people look forward to tomorrow night and the debating of this issue that will take place throughout this community. Usually Hickory Inc. is in charge of processes. Well, now we see the playing field leveled to a large degree. The Mayor is right about one thing. The changing of this system would completely change how the City of Hickory Inc. operates. The old saying goes "If it ain't broke don't fix it." For many, they view the system of political governance in Hickory as broken and so they haven't been participating in it. This is the chance to bring government back to those who feel disenfranchised. This petition screams loud and clear, "This system is broke and it's time to fix it."
And for all of those who complain about how Hickory's local economy isn't working, but continue to go along to get along by suppressing messages that interested parties attempt to deliver, it is time that you stand down and let processes happen naturally. Democracy isn't always pretty. Politics is never a comfortable thing, but this is how the decisions that affect our every day lives are made. It is time to allow the people of this community to be heard!